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where to get a daily dose of green

December 2, 2010

The design blog Abbey Goes Design Hunting, written by a design historian (dream job!) who I suspect works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (dream office!), is full of gems, but her column “A Daily Dose of Green” really hits my sweet spot. When you live in a dense city, even 2D views of greenery can lower your blood pressure.

[jwilkin’s Flickr…may I live here?]

All rights reserved by ithappenedin91

[via Hawlin.com]

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how to: save a ruined scarf

December 1, 2010

A couple years ago I bought a woven cotton cream shawl in the Yucatan. It was large, soft, and way more exciting than your average-Joe pashmina, and it had instant sentimental value as a souvenir from my first serious trip with my boyfriend. In a word, one-of-a-kind. It quickly became my favorite, and even after I irrevocably stained it (red dye from a wet bag) I wore it, trying to hide what looked like spilled Kool-Aid or, worse, a jello shot. Finally it was too embarrassing to continue. So I took a cue from the Stones and decided to dye it black. And the results were miraculous.

See the stains on the upper left and lower right?

My go-to product is iDye, which is available in most art supply stores and online (there’s one for natural fibers and one for poly–be sure to get the right one), easy to use, and vibrant. I’d only ever dyed the old fashioned way: on the stove. It’s time consuming and can be messy (though it’s easy), so I decided to try the laundromat. Don’t go to the laundromat: the wash cycle isn’t long enough and the scarf came out a blotched strawberry pink. I was also petrified that the owner would spot the purplish water swishing in the machine and 86 me. (No one saw, and I ran an additional empty cycle afterwards to wash away any remaining dye.)

So it was back to the stove, which I learned is the preferred method for dark colors. The package instructions are easy to follow. In addition to the dye (I used 2 packets of black because I didn’t want to risk the color stopping short at raisin or mulberry), you need a cup of table salt, a large pot, and tongs, neither of which you’ll be able to cook with again. After 30 minutes of boiling on the stove (and stirring the fabric with the tongs to insure against uneven dyeing), rinse the extra dye from the scarf. That process can have you leaning over the bathtub for days, so I went back to the laundromat and ran it through a warm water cycle with a gentle detergent. Warning: if you get dye in your fingernails, it’ll be there for a few days, so it’s best to wear gloves. Then, and this is crucial, I ran a second cycle with a fixative, which ensures the color won’t bleed.

The scarf felt stiff after it air dried, so I threw it in the dryer with a couple of dryer sheets for twenty minutes and it softened right up. Then, finally, I had my scarf back.

cavallini & co. calendars

November 30, 2010

Whether or not you still use wall calendars, these are too artful to pass up–and just right for a holiday office gift.

I salute: old patch, new jacket

November 24, 2010

I picked up this hand-sewn patch last weekend at the Brooklyn Flea for $10. The seller dated it to the 1960s. I say it’s timeless.

It’ll look very proper on the breast of one of my black blazers, like this 1980s Ralph Lauren jacket on eBay modeled by a girl with my dream haircut.

I’ll skip the denim cutoffs though.

bound: past objects

November 22, 2010

Digger Scott Jordan is one my heroes. Not only has he lead an extraordinary life digging up New York’s past in all five boroughs–in privies, landfills, and construction sites, often at his own peril–but he’s also an encyclopedia of historic knowledge fueled by an enduring and inspiring love for what he does. (You can read my 2008 article about him here.)

This month Mark Batty Publisher released Past Objects, a photographic collection of Jordan’s finds over the decades with captions listing their dates of origin and where he dug them up. An encylopedia for an encylopedia.

(Photos by the very talented John K. Putnam.)

Don’t let the small trim size fool you: the book’s breadth is astonishing and endlessly surprising. My scans of these sample spreads do not do the book justice, so if you love New York or love the thrill of the hunt, I encourage you to get a copy.

And if you’re in town, you can visit Jordan at the Columbus flea market on Sundays at 76th Street, where he sells old bottles and wears a top hat.

autumn at morton wildlife refuge

November 20, 2010

Last weekend we drove out to the Morton Wildlife Refuge near Sag Harbor, a bird sanctuary where several species of bird, particularly chickadees, will feed right from your hand if you have what they want (answer: shelled and unsalted sunflower seeds). And after a hectic week in the city, it’s a place that reminds you that, oh yes, there’s a world beyond one of subways and stuffy offices where life continues unfazed by deadlines.

The paths, which lead to Jessup’s Neck, a beautiful and impossibly calm beach, were on fire with autumn foliage and quiet but for chirps and the fluttering of chickadee wings. To our surprise we also encountered a family of wild turkeys strutting awkwardly, like old geezers, despite their gorgeous plumage. These federally protected boys will not end up on your dinner table this week.

Happy Thanksgiving!

how to: freshen old jewelry

November 18, 2010

I just scored this massive old bone bracelet on ebay. Unfortunately, according to my nose, the seller is a chain smoker who lives in a house of mildewed cheese. But I cannot be deterred!

This may not be a common problem for you, but just in case, here’s what you can do.

1. Fill a soup bowl with cool water, add some gentle, fragrant soap, and let the bracelet soak for about 20 minutes.

2. After drying it completely, put the bracelet in a clean cloth shoe bag with a sachet (lavender is my favorite) and tie it closed.

[sachets, bag]

3. Remember to squeeze the sachet before putting it in the bag to release the fragrance, particularly if it’s been sitting in a drawer for a while like mine. Then let everything sit undisturbed for about 72 hours.

That’s it! And so far, after a full day of wearing the bracelet, it still smells amazing.

P.S. That is not my Gucci dust bag, but I wish I had 50 of them.